The more things change…. Terra Nova, Questions and Wild Theories

One of my favorite things about SciFi is that it allows us to look at human nature and human relationships in fresh new context. We can drop people into very different surroundings from our own and explore what ifs without the pesky constraints of the ordinary world.

The most recent episode of Terra Nova focused on a premeditated murder. It served as a way to explore the question of whether humanity is worthy of a second chance. Or perhaps it just served to remind us that the more things change the more they stay the same. Both common themes in SciFi, but either way, it got me started thinking, theorizing, and asking some crazy questions.

What this the first murder?
In this episode they implied this was the first instance of a violent crime. Do you think that’s true? At first the TNs were content to call the death accidental. It took the newly arrived cop to see the crime for what it was. How many crimes had simply gone unrecognized before this? And, of course, they are completely discounting the sixers’ crimes. Do those not count because the two groups are in conflict? Is it only outrageous if the crime happens within the colony?

Can you select out bad behavior?
People have been killing each other from the beginning of our existence. All the technological progress, enlightenment, religion, and civility hasn’t changed our nature enough to eliminate our homicidal tendencies. Why would going back in time, or even getting a fresh start change that?  It seems perfectly natural that people traveling through time would take with them all there sins and vices. Perhaps the selective nature of the colony was meant to ensure a better class of folks would start the new society. They didn’t challenge the arrogance of that idea much in this episode. The two suspects each came from outside the pool of “chosen” ones. One had gotten into to Terra Nova via lottery, the other was a soldier. No stretch to think that a soldier would be prone to violence.

Would the environment or circumstance impact behavior? And how?
Terra Nova is an odd mix of primitive setting and technology. A more primitive environment might be expected to increase violence, since survival often requires violence. Perhaps education and technology are expected to elevate the colonists. In Terra Nova, the sixers seem to be living a far more primitive and violent lifestyle. They provide a good contrast for the colony.  On the other hand, the sixers must struggle daily for survival. Will that ultimately make them stronger? More united? So far we’ve been led to believe they are being held together using fear-based leadership, which is inherently weak. It would be a lot more interesting if that weren’t the case. Will have to wait and see where that goes.

In conclusion, giving this some thought revealed some weak choices I hadn’t noticed simply by passively watching the show. I’m still enjoying the show, but I do hope they will make some more interesting choices at some point. Might help their ratings.

Anyone else have any theories, questions, thoughts on Terra Nova? Or feel free to take some of these issues out to other fiction. I’ve been gone a while, but now I’m back and hungry for conversation!

11 thoughts on “The more things change…. Terra Nova, Questions and Wild Theories

  1. I’m loving Terra Nova so far, but mostly for the characters (and the CG). I’m trying not to analyze it too hard, but I was also struck by the unlikely reactions of the longtime residents to the idea of a murder. I was surprised that they would expect human beings to have emerged through the wormhole with none of the baser human qualities intact. After all, they have people drinking, gambling, fornicating. Why would it surprise them that someone might also be violent enough or be provoked enough to kill?

    • I couldn’t agree more. Funny thing is – I like the characters too. They are carrying the show for me right now. Unlike Walking Dead, a show that I love more for the drama and storytelling, but don’t like the main characters much.

  2. I do love the perceptions you bring up about Terra Nova. I watch it too. But I’m not crazy about the concepts and the way the show is developing. It stands to reason we would ‘take ourselves with us’ as my aunt would tell me. I do hope they come up with better story lines.

    • Me too, Kaye. There is such potential. It is almost as if they are afraid to go deep with it. Trying for the broad family appeal, maybe? IDK.

  3. I’m starting to lose interest in Terra Nova. The world building and concepts feel too homogenized. I expected more hard choices. Who lives. Who dies. They’re not in Kansas anymore. And despite all their equipment, they’re bound to run out of stuff or worse, not have the means to fix a problem of the ancient world. I want to see what happens when you CAN’T fix something in 45 minutes. What happens then?

    • I think you are exactly right. Not enough hard choices. A lot of scifi starts episodic in the first season then builds, but at this rate they won’t hold on to fans long enough to get there.

  4. Good insights as ever. Actually, what I found hardest to swallow is that humanities last hope was sent to the past without a clear judiciary system put in place. I mean, really? There appear to be hundreds of people there and there’s nothing more than one guys decisions for every dispute? Where does he find the time to keep going out into the jungle?

    • Lol. I guess I could see the point of martial law in this type of colony, but you’re right. Even the military would have MPs and a system set up to deal with crime.

      • Yeah. Plus, if they gov’t back home really is trying to set up the last-best-chance to save humanity, don’t you think they might try to ensure it’s built a bit more on utopian guidelines? Okay, maybe not at first, but one assumes even in a corrupt government like they seem to have, the Politicians themselves might want to come across at some point, in which case it wouldn’t really behoove them to have a totalitarian leader in place, would it?

    • Not yet! It was preempted one week by some sports thing.Maybe that’s what seemed off on your DVR. The buzz around is that it is on the bubble, likely to renew but not certain.

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